* Posts by Warm Braw

1833 posts • joined 6 Sep 2013

Campaigners cry foul over NHS Digital plans to grant policy wonks and researchers access to patient-level data

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Re: Sod off.

we're missing a massive opportunity

We're really not. By far the bulk of the work of the NHS is mundane and routine, so any potential improvements are merely around the edges. The biggest opporunity for health improvement is to promote the lifestyle changes that would reduce obesity - that's not even a medical issue. Some of the biggest medical scandals (such as mesh implants) are due to the lax rules for the introduction of medical devices, not the failure to notice their impact.

Facebook promotes the "massive opportunity" that could arise from connecting the world and we've seen where that leads: a trivial reduction in the effort required to communicate with people you don't like at the price of the ultimate destruction of civil society.

Not quite the Bake Off they were expecting: Canadian seniors served weed-infused brownies

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Re: talking to that tree ...

What's wrong with talking to trees


TV piracy ring walks the plank after Euro cops launch 14 raids and shutter 11 data centres

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Re: whack a mole

how eye wateringly expensive it is to subscribe to Sky sports

It's eye-wateringly expensive because they know you're not going to cancel your subscription however much you complain. At least Sky have worked out how to make a profit on the eye-watering sums, which is more that can be said for a lot of the football entertainment businesses that receive the bulk of the money.

How many Reg columnists does it take to turn off a lightbulb?

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Re: Long way around the barn!

I recently stayed in a "pod" style hotel room that promised a level of technical sophistication for the social media generation - this would normally be enough to keep me at a safe distance, but the alternatives were at least double the price. The lights were all controlled by a glass panel on the bedhead which managed simultaneously to be touch-insensitive to fingers, but extremely responsive to the nearby motion of head on pillow.

While you could disable the lights completely by removing the key card from its wall-switch captivity, it was a little tricky to find it again in the darkness of a winter night, particularly since the room offered by way of accessible horizontal surfaces only the floor and a narrow shelf from which everything was destined to fall into a small crack between the bed and the wall. And of course, if I had been of the social media generation, I would have been devastated to find that the ability to sleep in uninterrupted darkness was directly and negatively correlated with the ability to charge my phone and tablet (and those of my imaginary partner) from the single USB point that the double room offered as an incentive to "leave your chargers at home".

And almost none of the promised "exciting" digital TV channels actually worked, which is perhaps just as well as I find it increasingly difficul to rise to the challenge of being "excited" by a stream of advertisements interrupted by people with alarmingly unnatural teeth.

And it was clear from the flecking of the grouting and sealant in the bathroom that the cleaning staff were having great trouble fighting the mould that resulted from putting a high-intensity "rain" shower into a poorly-ventilated space the size of a telephone box.

Oh, and the deadlock on the door didn't actually marry up with the keep on the jamb. But being purely mechanical, who was going to be interested in that anyway?

Science says death metal fans delightful and intelligent people, great at dinner parties

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Great at dinner parties...

... unless you're softly-spoken, presumably.

Freelance devs: Oh, you wanted the app to be secure? The job spec didn't mention that

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Software developers can’t be worth paying very much

The problem is that we're paying them to reinvent solutions to problems that have already been solved.

If you were having a house built in the past, there would have been skilled tradesmen on the site handcrafting window frames, staircases, roof trusses and so forth. These days you get them pre-made and the scale of production means that they individually cost much less and meet higher performance standards.

Noone should actually need to implement a password-based security system. There are far too many of them out there already and they're mostly terrible. We need a few that actually work, are supported and can easily be integrated with other components.

You can blame managers for failing to appreciate the true life-cycle cost of software and therefore being unwilling to buy software components that have an ongoing support cost, but you can't blame them for balking at the cost of reinventing the wheel - knowing they'll get one with a permanently flat tire.

Schneier: Don't expect Uncle Sam to guard your web privacy – it's Europe riding to the rescue

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Re: Sure.

The implication seems to be that only people who work for the big names of Silicon Valley have the skills required to provide the necessary technical expertise. That entirely pulls the rug from beneath Schneier's argument as it implies only Silicon Valley understands how/whether to regulate Silicon Valley.

There's plenty of people with the rights skills and knowledge who'd happily do some pro bono consulting. If the problem is that politicians won't accept their credentials because "if they were any good they'd be working for Facebook", then any prosepct of oversight has already been lost.

Uber won't face criminal charges after its robo-car killed woman crossing street

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Re: What? The car can't do emergency braking on it's own?

sleep whilst in the pod.. much like a commuter train

When did you last commute by train?

Cheap as chips: There's no such thing as a free lunch any Moore

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We can't separate them easily anymore

It hasn't been that easy for some time.

Access to I/O devices may require instructions that cause specific forms of bus transaction. Shared memory and multiprocessor configurations depend on certain instructions providing hardware interlocks. Virtualisation requires the instruction set meet certain criteria. Operating system enforced security requires some sort of CPU support to back it up.

What might perhaps be up for consideration is the hard boundary between hardware and software: it's possible to envisage a layered model in which the number of layers commited to silicon is implementation dependent - it is, after all, just a variation on microcode and virtualisation.

SPOILER alert, literally: Intel CPUs afflicted with simple data-spewing spec-exec vulnerability

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Re: It's interesting...

how we got to this point

We got to this point because historically you ran your own code on your own computer, so this type of information leakage didn't matter.

We now run our own code on other people's computers, and other people run their code on our computers - with or without our permission. It's not just processors that haven't risen to the challenge: operating system security is still largely based on the models developed for timesharing in the 1960s.

UK.gov's Verify has 'significantly' missed every target, groans spending watchdog

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The default way for people to prove their identity

For most government services, they really only need to know who you are if they're giving you money. - for that, these days, they require you to have a bank account.- or you're giving them money. Either way, the bank/payment processor have already done an identity check. For anything else (like checking your tax bill or NI contributions) they would historically simply have written to you, so why they suddenly need documentation they have never previously required is beyond me. Maybe we should just take the Norwegian approach and make everyone's tax returns public.

Correction: Last month, we called Zuckerberg a moron. We apologize. In fact, he and Facebook are a fscking disgrace

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Re: Facebook and Disabled Accounts

Even worse, they sent copies of official ID for Facebook to add to their data trove. A perfect explanation of how Zuckerberg gets away with it.

MPs tear 'naive' British Army a new one over Capita recruitment farce

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Re: Our best man ...

I think you'll find that Dido Harding has become public service's answer to Dido Harding.

Amusingly, Wikipedia describes her as raised on the family pig farm in Dorset.

YouTube's pedo problem is so bad, it just switched off comments on millions of vids of small kids to stem the tide of vileness

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Re: Is this real, or just the latest panic?

discussion critical of favoured political entities

Whenever I look at YouTube it mostly seems to consist of Americans making furniture in impossibly spacious and well-equipped woodworking shops. And people opening boxes. I don't think it's ever going to be the place to plan world domination - unless you want to learn how to build your hollowed-out volcano from MDF and surplus cardboard packaging.

Another way to look at Amazon's counterfeit-busting Project Zero: Making merchants cough up protection money

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Re: Disruptive...

I'm told that if you use Fulfillment By Amazon, your "stock" is pooled with other suppliers of the same thing. Amazon decide which box they pick from the shelf to fulfill your order. Can you pin down anyone as the seller in the event that the box you receive is a fake?

Three-quarters of crucial border IT systems at risk of failure? Bah, it's not like Brexit is *looks at watch* err... next month

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Re: Cheer up, what's the worst that could happen?

a woad decorated kilty army surges south for revenge

I hope they meet up with the Farage fantasy force en route. Hilarity will ensue, though possibly not for very long,

Slow Ring Windows 10 fragged by anti-cheat software in the games you're playing at work, says Insiders supremo

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Re: cheating

I'd certainly care more that a game was running code at an elevated privilege - which I presume is necessary to trigger a GSOD, particularly if it's a problem Microsoft can't fix themselves - than that someone might be cheating at an inconsequential distraction. Just exactly what is this anti-cheat code doing? What might it do in future? Even when you pay for the damned stuff, you're still not in charge...

IBM so very, very sorry after jobs page casually asks hopefuls: Are you white, black... or yellow?

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I don't know of anybody in the UK who self-identifies as African-British

And yet, ultimately, we all are. Funny old world...

This image-recognition neural net can be trained from 1.2 million pictures in the time it takes to make a cup o' tea

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Re: Can you get 58% accuracy with a much smaller training set in 90 seconds?

The meaning of "accuracy" is important in this context. The ImageNet database consists of images that have been categorised using the WordNet tree structure. So, for example, part of the tree is Sport / Racing under which you'll find Greyhound Racing, Horse Racing, Boat Racing and Car Racing.

Accuracy in the ImageNet challenge appears to involve putting the images into the correct category as originally labelled. I'm not convinced that's a terribly useful definition of accuracy. For a number of practical purposes, you might be able to live with an image being wrongly categorised as "horse racing" if it was actually of a dog track, because it's in the correct branch of the tree and of a similar nature. On the other hand it's unlikely that there are many circumstances in which miscategorising it as "boat racing" would be even partially helpful.

That's the trouble with ML, at least in my uninformed opinion - there's a lot of focus on solving artificial problems that dpn't necessarily map to real world appilcations.

I did discover one bit of ImageNet that might be a particular challenge: there's part of the tree that's Animal / Male / Horse under which (both physically and taxonomically) you'll find (or not find) "Stallion, entire" and "Gelding". I couldn't find "Brass Monkey" in the dataset, though, anywhere: perhaps the accuracy would depend on the effectiveness of GPU cooling.

Nokia 9: HMD Global hauls PureView™ out of brand limbo

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Hope it's not as half-hearted as OZO audio...

The PureView 808 also had HAAC, a feature which made its way to a number of Lumias which became quite popular for their audio-recording capabilities, particularly their ability to handle a wide dynamic range. Despite the new Nokia pushing "OZO" audio, it's only available for video recording - there's no audio-only recording app - and it seems to be a software solution rather than the dual-membrane microphones that Nokia were so keen at one stage to prevent HTC using.

Even in the Lumias, with Microsoft's money, successive software updates seemed to remove or break features that had originally been promoted with great fanfare. It's not really promising for the prospective purchaser. And £549 would have bought you a top-end phone at one time - before Apple distorted the reality field.

Linus Torvalds pulls pin, tosses in grenade: x86 won, forget about Arm in server CPUs, says Linux kernel supremo

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DEC built their business on excellent machines

And software development productivity: it was far faster to write code in a VMS environment than it was in an IBM shop, generally, and networking and clustering not only faciliated deployment, but also compensated for the relatively small range of hardware. For networking and clustering these days read "cloud", but Microsoft's development tools are still generally very good and they'll probably keep x86 flying for some time yet, though the day will finally arrive when .NET developers, at least, aren't going to care much about the target architecture.

Fancy a .dev domain? They were $12,500 a pop from Google. Now, $1,000. Soon, $17.50. And you may want one

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Some devs warrant a premium

Had a quick check and there is a wide variation in the price you'll get charged annually for a .dev domain name based on its perceived value.

For example, theregister.dev will cost £975 (less tomorrow...) and £10pa thereafter, whereas register.dev would cost you £320pa in perpetuity.

'We don't want a camera in everyone's living room' says bloke selling cameras in living rooms. Zuckerberg, you moron

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Re: Pay YOU?

I was born on the 29 Feb 1963

That's not how it works. They analyze your behaviour. They don't care if you're a millennial, provided you behave like a millennial, they can sell you stuff like a millennial - or pensioner, or MAGA hat wearer, or whatever. They may use data you provide for contractual purposes (eg to decide whether you're old enough to get onto the site), but it's what you do online that makes you who you are for marketing purposes. And who you interact with. And who they interact with. And so on. You really can't opt out of all of that by changing your phone number.

UK.gov pens Carillion-proofing playbook: Let's run pilots of work before we outsource it, check firms' finances

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Re: Input from the SMBs?

The problem is that the government operates at a scale that dwarfs the ability of SMBs to service.

Governments outsource because they don't want the overhead of thousands of employees and their associated liabilities on the books. The theory is that the government can concentrate on policy rather than personnel. There's not much advantage gained if you effectively have to retain the middle management and coordination that would be involved in letting and monitoring hundreds of individual contracts with SMBs.

I'd suggest that the government is trying to do rather too much centrally and should be trying to devolve a lot of its work to regions and local authorities, who could then manage a relationship with local SMBs. The historical pattern has been exactly the opposite because local democracy makes it difficult for a central government to impose its writ, but history also suggests that the less central government is able to achieve, the better.

Northern UK smart meter rollout is too slow, snarls MPs' committee

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The frozen north

I can tell you that in the northern region of England, at least, repairing the existing dumb metering systems is playing second fiddle to rolling out their replacements. A (planned) power outage resulted in my Economy 7 timer being out by around 8 hours, meaning that the water and storage heaters were operating at an economically unatrractive time of day.

Putting the clock right is a two minute job, but after six months and a succession of cancelled appointments - because the meter repair team was reassigned to smart meter installations - it still wasn't fixed. I moved house and it still wasn't fixed 6 months after the new residents moved in.

And at the time, they were still installing the original smart meters, knowing they'd need either upgrading or replacing shortly after.


Samsung pulls sheets off costly phone-cum-fondleslab Galaxy Fold – and a hefty 5G monster

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Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

The problem with 1st generation products is that you can only test for the things you can anticipate as being problems. Too early to rule out a you're folding it wrong moment.

You know the drill: SAP has asked Joe Public to name Munich arena so go forth and be very silly

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Is there a temporary sign reading "Name ASAP"?

Data-spewing Spectre chip flaws can't be killed by software alone, Google boffins conclude

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Re: The royal WEEE ???

It depends what you mean by globally visible state.

All these performance enhancements preserve globally visible state in the sense that the state that is intended to be visible (registers, flags, memory contents) are indeed preserved as they should. The things that are not preserved are things that are not actually defined - such as the execution times of certain operations.

This is a Rumsfeld problem: since CPU architectures are defined in specifically defined in terms of what is visible and known, anything else that is observable - and that potentially conveys information - is an unknown unknown...

Dratted hipster UX designers stole my corporate app

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Re: I'm hoping UX/responsive design is a phase

it should be obvious

It certainly wasn't to me when I first encountered it - I never got to use a Xerox Star but I can see why it disappeared for 30-odd years.

And apart from the vertically-stacked horizontal lines, there are those vertically- and horizontally-stacked dots. Are they the same or different? More of an IQ test than a UI.

The thing is, these things have caught on at a time where there has been a massive increase in available pixels - even on mobile phones - and we have stupid aspect ratios that make chunks of the screen practially unusable for anything other than fashionable whitespace or pointless edge-to-edge pictures. There's usually plenty of space at the top of a portrait screen or at the side of a landscape screen for an unhidden menu.

I think it's because we're not actually expected to interact, only to gawp - along with the menus, the meaningful content is disappearing, replaced by glossy stock photographs and boilerplate motivational slogans.

Pokemon No! Good news: You can now ban the virtual pests, er, pets to stop nerds wandering around your property

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Pixilated pests

I think that would be a better description of the players than their quarry.

Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

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Re: Holding my breath turning blue

I've still got quite a few and managed to digitise a few others before laser rot made them finally unplayable. Doesn't really matter if it's analogue or digital if the glue is dodgy...

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If you're looking for a challenge...

... try reintroducing these!

Amazon throws toys out of pram, ditches plans for New York HQ2 after big trouble in Big Apple

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Re: Ditched

It's not just a case of being wanted or not.

I don't imagine Queens is as pricey a location as Manhattan, but I'd have thought you could have saved considerably more money than was being offered in bribesincentives, both in property costs and salary costs, by setting up shop in the big empty bit away from the coasts.

That's how the market's supposed to work - pricing people out when demand is too high. I thought most Americans believed that subverting the market was a form of demonic socialism? "Traditional" residents of San Francisco don't seem to get the same breaks in their accomodation costs.

Pandas so useless they just look at delicious kid who fell into enclosure

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As defined by the late, lamented Jeremy Hardy on ISIHAC:

A musical instrument that refuses to breed in captivity

Now, hold on. This may shock you... Oracle allegedly juices its cloud sales with threats and shoddy on-prem support

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Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

they have had a good product to sell

They do, and there are some use cases where there are few good alternatives.

Unfortunately, they've put themselves in a position where potential customers have to balance the technical risk and the financial risk and the latter seems to be growing steadily as Oracle turns the screw.

Q. What's a good thing to put outside a building of spies? A: A banner saying 'here we are!'

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They will no doubt report that it can be deployed in as little as 45 minutes and reach as far as Birmingham

They said something similar about HS2...

Samsung Galaxy's flagship leaks ... don't matter much. Here's why

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Station idents become invisible to the TV viewer

I suspect I'm not the only person for whom that is untrue.

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019

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Seriously, in this day and age?

Why not? Arguably, the field is too big, so it isn't wrapping sufficiently frequently to catch out lazy software developers before products actually ship. It's only going to be an insurmountable issue if the satellitle clock differs by 10 years, at which point you won't know whether it's a decade behind or ahead. That's more than enough margin, I'd have thought. Those who can't deal with wrapping integers should confine their professional activities to making web pages more annoying.

Uncle Sam to its friends around the world: You can buy technology the easy way, or the Huawei

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Re: Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

You have to realise that Brexit is about none of the things that made it to the side of buses. It's essentially about the UK aligning itself with a clique of radical free-market capitalists in the US for the mutual benefit of radical free-market capitalists there and in the UK. Anything said to the punters is simply bait for the trap, most of which is being put out by the useful idiots who will find themselves being held responsible for what ensues.

Google's stunning plan to avoid apps slurping Gmail inboxes: Charge devs for security audits

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Re: When will using GMail (or any Google Service...)...

It's not just the walled garden - do you really want the very existence of your email service (or any other service) to depend on the good will of Google?

And why would you cheapskate with a free e-mail service and then pay, for example, £7.49 a month to Clean Mail, to deal with its deficiencies? Surely at that sort of price these companies could throw in an actual e-mail service for free with their offering? And a domain name? Or are they all in fact dependent on people who don't understand that "Gmail" is not the only mail sysyem out there, in which case perhaps they deserve their fate

This type of service offering makes no sense - you put your personal data on a random server with no guaranteed longevity and constantly-changing terms of use, then give access to it to a bunch of other organisations with similarly unpredictable consequences, possibly in jurisdictions where you have no effective means of securing even the most basic of remedies - but it seems increasingly to be the default. All of these "smart home" devices seem to work the same way. If it weren't for global warmiing, the collapse of the insect population and eternal Brexit, it's something we might have had to worry about.

National Enquirer's big Pecker tried to shaft me – but I wouldn't give him an inch, says Jeff Bezos after dick pic leak threat

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Re: I have some questions

As part of their immunity from prosecution in the Trump enquiry, AMI made undertakings about their future conduct, so you'd think they'd be trying to err on the side of caution, given that immunity could be withdrawn.

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Re: Attempt to blackmail the richest man on the planet, WCGW?

Do AMI have the balls to take Bezos on?

I doubt it, but they do claim to have pictures of his little peckerdillo..

But I hope Bezos is successful in finding out where they got them as it could be quite enlightening.

Treaty of Roam: No-deal Brexit mobile bill shock

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Re: So predictable !

Next up will no doubt be undoing GDPR

Not if they wish to maintain a vestige of hope that the personal information of EU citizens will ever cross the channel. They're not taking back as much control as they fondly dream...

From Firefox to fired cocks: Look who's out to save you being shafted by insecure Internet of Dingalings – it's Mozilla!

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Re: Bag O'Shite

The Reg is a beacon of hope in my dreary world

It was certainly the bacon of hope in my dreary Veganuary...

Crypto exchange in court: It owes $190m to netizens after founder 'dies without telling anyone vault passwords'

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Re: As we get older...

When my aunt went into care, she left behind many bin bags full of unopened correspondence from the previous several years - everything from bank statements to Readers Digest Prize Draw promotions. Or, rather, the first stage was to gather the correspondence into bin bags from the various places it had been secreted after clearing off the worst of the dust.

She had, fortunately, very reluctantly agreed to a Power of Attorney while she still had some vestiges of capacity or there is likely very little I could have done. She resolutely refused to make a will: apparently there is/was a widespread superstition that making a will brings forward your demise.

However much she might have been implored to "put her affairs in order", she would never have done so, she really didn't care what happened after her death - she really didn't care much what happened during her life.

On the other hand, she didn't run a crypto exchange. Or if she did, she'd hidden that correspondence particularly well.

British cops told to scrap 'discriminatory' algorithms in policing

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Re: Bias in, bias out

The fact that a certain postcode has an elevated amount of crime may not tell you very much about the perpetrators, merely, say, that the neighbourhood has a bunch of easily-nickable cars on driveways. If the crime is, say, burglary, the chances are the police are going to ignore it anyway.

If all crime were treated equally, then its distribution would be usefully informative. When you start to make choices about which crimes to pursue, then the information may simply reinforce any unconscious bias in your original choices to the point if becomes Kafkaesque.

LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn't

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The exploit was tested on Windows but should work on Linux

Bugs bad. Platform-independence good. Brain hurts.

El Reg talks to PornHub sister biz AgeID – and an indie pornographer – about age verification

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They verify their age via a third-party provider

Good morning! I see you're interested in porn and are "barely legal". Would you like to earn a few quid? I can provide you to a third party...

Tedious Service Bulletin: No prizes for guessing which UK bank's services are DOWN for business users

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Re: Why do they still have customers?

The whole thing was set up to fail.

Lloyds were obliged to shed a bunch of customers because of government ownership. They could simply have offered incentives (paid for by the receiving banks) to customers to switch their accounts to existing providers. They could even have created a fintech-style business, drummed up support amongst their existing customer base and then sold that.

Instead, they offered a chunk of their current business "as is" along with outstanding loans and mortgages, setting up a clone of their current banking IT to host it and then offered it for sale on the basis that the buyer would then have to migrate all the IT to their own systems.

It was never going to work...

Thanks for all those data-flow warnings, UK.gov. Now let's talk about your own Brexit prep. Yep, just as we thought

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Re: Time to have another public Brexit vote?

The legal position is we leave on March 29th, ready or not. Any other option requires legislation. If you've seen the recent selfless and principled deliberations of our legislators, you are well able to assess the prospects of that happening.

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